Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) from across Europe will be meeting in Bantry next month to discuss “smart” ways to tackle coastal challenges.
The Smart Coastal Areas seminar, hosted by FLAG South and Bord Iascaigh Mhara at the Westlodge Hotel from Tuesday 2 to Thursday 4 April, aims to provide ideas and guidance on ‘smart’ development — including activities, development models and ways of working to boost the fisheries industry and coastal regions in an innovative way.
In 2017, the GDP of the Irish seafood sector was estimated at €1.15 billion. More than 14,000 people are employed in Ireland’s seafood sector, many of whom work and live in rural coastal communities.
Fisheries and coastal areas are impacted by factors such as depopulation, ageing population, climate change and economic decline.
The EU’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) was set up to support initiatives by local fisheries communities through Community-Led Local Development (CLLD). FLAGs can use this money to implement projects that support sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture production, and coastal communities.
However, funding is not the only answer, as creativity and strategic action is also needed.
The Smart Coastal Areas seminar will highlight:
- Smart partnerships (creating win-win situations between different interest groups)
- Smart resource use (optimising local resources and production systems)
- Smart financing (reaching small-scale beneficiaries: micro-credit, etc)
- Smart services (adapting services to ensure their viability: smart harbours, connecting remote areas, etc)
The seminar will include presentations on FLAG projects in EU countries that demonstrate smart approaches to rural sustainability and development. Local examples from the Cork coast are Courtmacsherry Community Shop and Schull Bait Bins, both supported by Ireland’s FLAG South.